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Abba Sessions - 2020
Close Calls with the Rabbi
Ari Hoffman interviews his father, Rabbi Howard Hoffman, about his early life, his development, Outward Bound, Israel, and many other topics.
Keywords: Values, authenticity, Jewish history, Denver, Colorado, Harry Hoffman, Gart Brothers, Outward Bound, Green Gables, immigrants, mafia
In Tzfat, Habbakuk, circle making, teaching Torah under fire from missiles at 6:30 AM.
Captain Aaron Pick knife edge ridge Arapahoe Peak, St. Elmo’s Fire coming from the Rabbi’s finger.
In Jerusalem during 6 Day War by the wall between Jewish and Arab Jerusalem, under fire, goes into the Post Office, doing telegrams, receives one from U Thant - three days in the Post Office.
Decision to stay in Israel during the war.
Background stories leading to the Maroon Bells story, and the creation of Outward Bound. Clara and Grandma Butler, mentors, Mr. Zajac neighbor/mentor - vegetable gardens, Harry Hoffman was a workaholic.
Left alone at the dinner table for eating slowly. Working the cash register at his father’s liquor store. Green Gables. A sketchy uncle started another competing liquor store and called it the same name. Harry Hoffman’s acrimony with the rest of his family.
Harry Hoffman could spell any word backwards and saved up money, since he was 10, it got stolen when he was 19.
Harry Hoffman’s dad, brother dabbled in the Mafia. Ben Hoffman [oldest brother] went to Cañon City Penitentiary. Him and Nate Gart [Gart Brothers] bought a load of rifles and sold them. Gart sisters stories, Razel and Annie. Brunch for the Smaldones every Sunday. Selling Chocolate covered frozen bananas in Phoenix. Big Vegas gambler.
Ben and Nate went to Cheyenne with Havana cigars, selling to a Chinese store owner. Sold a truckload of cheap cigars, after presenting a fake sample of fancy Havanas. The Chinese guy called the police, who chased them to Denver back to Zaida’s house, who whipped him with a belt. Ben was 40 at that time.
Joe Klausner  and his wife, who had been a Tennessee bootlegger, had Howard for kiddush every Shabbes, walking home from BMH. He knew uncle Ben. Story of him writing bad checks for $9.99, because it becomes a felony at $10.
They were first generation immigrants. Most were industrious and successful, others were more sketchy. Harry’s 1st cousin tried to corner the pickle market in Denver. Train cars he bought rotted. Went broke, ran away to Rock Springs, Wyoming. For years there was a branch of the family there.
Poverty in the depression - Harry worked for Gart Brothers for free to help get the business going. The transformation from poverty to hard-earned business success. But their kids had no values. Why didn’t they pass on the good values?
One answer, Dad is at work. He’ll pay for everything, but no quality time. Howard and Bruce Heitler at Green Gables lake, throwing frogs into the pool making old ladies scream.
Mentor Frank Earl, Scout Master, introduced him to backpacking, built the initial core of the Outward Bound School.
Passing on values - workaholics don’t do it well.
Uploaded by Rabbi Hoffman Torahs on